Southland Academy welcomes new personnel

Published 3:54 pm Monday, November 6, 2017

AMERICUS — Southland Academy announces eight additions to the faculty and staff for the 2017-2018 school year.
Lori Bell comes to Southland as a Pre-K teacher. She is married and has four daughters: Alison, Lynnsey, Lanna, and Madison, all of whom are attending Southland this year. She received her bachelor of science degree in early childhood education from Brewton Parker College and lists family time and time spent watching her girls swim as her favorite activities. About coming to Southland, Bell says, “I have been overwhelmed by the kindness of everyone at Southland towards not only myself but my children as well. I am so thankful to be a part of the Southland family.”
Returning to teach at Southland is Amy Benton, who brings 26 years of teaching experience as well as 22 years of experience coaching competitive cheerleading. She Benton is teaching sixth-grade math, seventh-grade life science and STEM, and ninth-grade health this year. She received her bachelor of science degree in biology and chemistry from GSW and is on the board of directors of the Alumni Association there. She is married to Jeff Benton and has two children: Bryce and Brooke. She said, “I am very excited to be returning to Southland. It is a very special place that treats everyone as family!”
Pam Buchanan is teaching math to the fourth and fifth grades this year. She is married to a Southland alumnus, Ben Buchanan, and their son Barrett is in 5K. She received her bachelor’s degree in business administration/accounting from GSW, her master’s degree in quality schools, and a specialist’s degree in instructional technology. She lists her activities as shopping, cooking, and spending time with her family, and she says, “I am so excited to join such a friendly and dedicated group of educators. I am thrilled that my son and I get to be a part of the excellence that is Southland Academy.”
A new 5K aide at Southland Academy is Rena Clayton, who is working on her child development credentials now to be able to teach 3K and 4K in the future. She has worked for over 17 years in elementary schools as a paraprofessional and substituted in classrooms as needed. She is married with two children and was named Paraprofessional of the Year at McKeel Academy Central. Her activities include painting furniture and riding around the farm with her husband. She commented, “I feel very blessed to be part of the Southland Academy family! I’m looking forward to many years here!”
Returning to Southland as a full-time coach is 2006 Southland graduate Eric Israel. He graduated from Kennesaw State University with a degree in sports management, and he will be teaching junior high girls’ physical education and high school weight training. He will be coaching the B-team boys’ and girls’ basketball teams, and he will be the assistant coach for the varsity boys’ and girls’ basketball teams and the C-team baseball team. When asked for a comment about Southland, Israel replied, “I’m thrilled to say that I’m part of the Southland family. This place will always be home to me.”
Southland also welcomes Johnnie Jarvis, who retired from the public school sector in 2016. Jarvis received her bachelor of science degree in mental retardation and her master’s of science in learning disabilities from Auburn University. She also has a master’s of science in behavior disorders from Armstrong State University. This year she will be teaching 12th-grade British literature and sophomore composition. Her activities are reading, crafts, and the piano. Her comments about joining the faculty were, “I am overwhelmed by the spirit, camaraderie, and fellowship of faculty, administrators, and staff. I feel blessed to be a part of the Southland community.”
Leigh Anne Saye came to Southland Academy as a 5K teacher and brought her three sons with her: John, Daniel, and Jack. She received her bachelor of arts in early childhood education from Mercer University after graduating from Fullington Academy in Pinehurst. She has been married to husband Randy for 17 years. Her teaching experience includes teaching music and art, teaching first and second grades, and homeschooling her sons. She lists singing, playing the piano and guitar, reading and relaxing, and watching her boys play sports as her favorite activities. She said, “I grew up on a farm in Dooly County, Perfect Farms. Yes, my maiden name really is Perfect.”
Crystal Waddell begins her teaching career at Southland Academy by teaching English to the fourth and fifth grades. She and her husband Mark have two children, Gage and Mary Margaret. She has her bachelor of business administration degree in human resources; master of science in business administration; and education specialist degree  in early childhood education, all from GSW. Her activities include reading, traveling, and writing magazine articles. About her career at Southland, she said, “The opportunity to teach at the same school my children attend as well as to help mold future Southland graduates is a dream come true. I love being a member of the Southland family!”